After work on Friday, October 28, 2005 (my second-to-last day at that crusty old warehouse - Halloween was my last), I drove over to where my wife works. She had already been picked up by her mother and I knew she probably was, but I took my chances anyway to say goodbye to her. We have been car pooling to save gas and she'd needed a way home since I didn't want to drive all the way back to O'Fallon, then back to St. Louis and onward to Heyworth, Illinois. Even though she was not at her lab, I took the opportunity to use the facilities one final time before my anticipated nearly-three-hour tour of Illinois.

It was to be my very first nodermeet. I am not one to have the time or money to go meet internet people very often and this was my best chance at ever getting to do so with E2-ers. At only just under three hours way, I couldn't pass up the opportunity and am eternally grateful for Wiccanpiper inviting me to come in a /msg about a month ago. Before COTC2, I had only met peeps in real life that I'd met on the internet twice before. Once was when I dated a chick I'd met on a talker back in the spring of 1995. The second time was when I met swankivy back in late-September, 2003, while on my way down to the Florida Keys. For more on that, see this.

It turns out that the trip did not take nearly as long as I'd thought it would. Mapquest lied to me. Well, actually it told me how long it would take at a legal, reasonable speed. I got there in about two and a half hours, and that was with stopping at McDonald's on the way up and eating...INSIDE! Say what you want about the golden arches, but not much beats their good ol' filet-o-fish. Fish patty, cheese, tarter sauce and buns. Beautiful in its simplicity. Anyway, I hauled some serious ass up I-55 and was able to get away with it because I always made sure I had a ticket buddy. What's that, you ask? To put it simply: I made sure there were always at least one car ahead of me driving as insanely as I was who, should we have passed a speed trap, would have been nabbed first. Maybe I should do a whole node on it. Only one speed trap was passed and he didn't seem to mind that we were doing 75.

When I arrived in Heyworth, Mapquest told me what streets to drive down. An "E2" sign on the street Mapquest told me to follow told me to keep going. So I did. Apparently I didn't see the other "E2" sign and ended up almost leaving Heyworth again. I turned around and went the way my buddy Mapquest told me to. I stopped at a house with a fire going in a burn barrel, a big guy standing around, and a bunch of lawn chairs strewn about in the yard. Surely this is the nodermeet! I mean, there's a big fire and all!

"Is this 107?!" I cautiously ask the burninating gentleman.

"No, that's up yonder!" he says helpfully, pointing ahead. I thought that was odd because it looked like Sullivan ended at a T. Apparently it's one of those cattywumpus streets that starts up again twenty feet to the right on the other side of the cross street. Those annoy me.

I finally arrived at a house with an "E2" sign on the mailbox. Finally, one that was helpful! :) Being the speed demon that I am, I was one of the first to get there. The gracious host, Wiccanpiper, was the first friendly face I saw. Let me stop here and tell you about this man: I have not met many folks as friendly, charming, hospitable, and fun as our nodermeet host. I almost felt guilty for eating his wonderful food and drinking so much of his flavored water. I am diabetic, after all. In fact, on Saturday night, this guy was so considerate he told me not to eat gwenellian's Russian cream thingy shaped like a brain. Apparently it had a lethal amount of sugar. How many hosts are looking out for their guests' health? Well, maybe most of them, but anyway...

After greeting Wiccanpiper and making a friend (hopefully) for life, inside I met vandewal, hunt05, briarcub and Tracy. I hopelessly tried to learn all of their names, real and usernames. Let me point out that it was a very unusual experience for me the entire weekend, having to learn two names for everybody and trying to keep them straight. I'd be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time I asked vandewall or Phyrkrakr if they were ScientistPhilosopher, or ScientistPhilosopher if he was vandewall. Actually I'd be rich if I got $10,000 for each time, but you get my drift. My ineptitude at remembering the names has caused me to take a lot longer to write this than I would like to admit. Thank God for the other writeups in this node.

When the St. Louis crew arrived, I finally got to meet passport, formerly a "kitty" that had gotten a lot of "boo-boos." He is a fellow St. Louisan that I could have, and probably should have, met sooner, given his geographic proximity to me. I found him to be a really cool guy and the rest of his grilled cheese sandwich posse was cool, too. Craze was the most unusual of the bunch. I'm such a dunderhead that when I saw the military-type garb he had on I asked him if he had been in the armed forces, forgetting that it was a fucking Halloween nodermeet! Fortunately nobody called the Duh Police, for they had already had many warrants for my arrest issued.

Anyhoo, finally one of the people I had most looked forward to meeting arrived: avalyn. He had long been an E2 hockey buddy of mine, even though I am a St. Louis Blues fan and he is a Detroit Red Wings fan and we are genetically supposed to hate each other's guts. He arrived with Molly. He was just as fascinating, perhaps moreso, than I had anticipated. Turns out we had a lot more in common that I'd thought. He's my age, graduated high school the same year, and at seventeen just like me, a rarity. We had similar negative schooling experiences. Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about and we had a wonderful three or four hour conversation. We bonded on a deep level and I hope I've made another friend for life.

There was a lot of eating, arrivals, drinking, and smoking. No I didn't do any smoking and very little drinking (with the diabetes medicine I take consuming too much alcohol can cause a potentially lethal condition called lactic acidosis). But I still hung out with the smokers and drinkers, once in Wiccanpiper's garage where I almost choked to death on the smoke and humored half the group, especially vandewall, with my joke "What has two legs and bleeds a lot?" It was during this smoky garage gathering that I found out just how gay the nodermeet was.

At some point, close to 4AM, I decided it was crash time. Hell, somebody had to get that train on its tracks. I turned out the lights to help bedtime along. Who knows how much longer everybody would have stayed up talking? I initially tried to sleep on the couch, but with avalyn and Molly there first, it was nuthin-doin. I had hoped to crash on the couch because I had foolishly forgotten to bring anything soft to sleep on. My sleeping bag had been used as a litter box and I'd had to dispose of it. Luckily, Wiccanpiper, gracious host that he was, provided me with one of his own, completely cat urine free.

Sleeping was a challenge, as I have to sleep with a CPAP mask. See my first node, Sleep study, and Sleep Study 2: the CPAP machine for more info. I finally did get to sleep and had that annoying dream where your teeth are falling out.

The next morning there was a doorbell. Apparently some of the group had gotten locked out and subsisted on nothing more than fermented beverages for the wee hours of the night. Somebody got "balls" written on their forehead, and a little bit later Wiccanpiper made some wonderful pancakes. The breakfast of champions. And he had sugar free Mrs. Butterworth's! My savior!

After more stuff, and a great walk around town in a beautiful day, the massive Carcossone game commenced. See the other write ups for more details on that. I do have to say that their depiction of me being a speed player and a jack of all trades was accurate. It is quite a strategy game, but I went with my gut a lot and diversified which got me within range of winning. It was my first time and I admit I got a lot of help from briarcub, our genius officiator of the game. yclept soundly defeated all of us. /me bows down "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

I had to go after the game, which had lasted a lot longer that I'd thought it would. Boy some turns lasted forever. I got going a lot later than I'd wanted to. I wanted to spend all day Sunday with my family, that is why I had to jet late Saturday night. Plus after having my van stolen the previous Wednesday and starting a new job the following Tuesday, I had a lot to do. I was remiss that I missed Rocky Horror and didn't get to spend more time conversing with avalyn. I have seen the, uh, interesting pictures, and I really wish I could have been there.

The following is a rundown of the attendees and my thoughts of them and/or comments. I'm going to try to include everybody, but if I miss you, I apologize. I'm still having trouble remembering all of the names.

  • Craze: With your outfit, you looked like you were straight out of a movie... a movie about strange guys who go to nodermeets. I hear there was one starring Kevin Spacey.
  • Wiccanpiper: Boy this guy is gay! What? I meant happy. I swear I did.
  • izubachi: I didn't get to spend a lot of time with this kid, as he arrived the day I left. He's all of what? 19? And he's sittin there spouting philosophy like he's some kind of leader of a philosophy street gang orchestrating many drive-by ponderings. And he fuckin writes in Japanese. I wanna know whose dick he sucked in the netherworld to be born with that brain.
  • avalyn: Uber cool, I hope to see you again sometime. I'm really glad your cats lived. There's nothing worse than starving pussies.
  • yclept: She's very nice and sweet, makes great lembas and can knit like nobody's business. I thought about asking her to knit a dick warmer for me, but didn't because, let's face it, that would have been terribly inappropriate -- that and I didn't think of that joke until just now while writing this. If you didn't laugh I've just wasted countless valuable electrons. If you did, you're a sick, sick person.
  • vandewall: Thanks for laughing at my jokes. Hopefully next time nobody will write balls on your head.
  • Phyrkrakr: I recall this dude being funny and cool. Kind of like John Candy in Cool Runnings. But not.
  • ScientistPhilosopher: I found him to be quite a scientist and a philosopher. Wait a minute...!
  • Junkill: Glad I got to meet you, albeit briefly. You were just like I'd imagined you'd be. Actually, I'm lying there. I'd never imagined you before.
  • briarcub: Wiccan's a lucky man to have you. You were also a good host and cook and a sharp Carcossone runner.
  • gwenellian: You're cool and so are your adorable kids. I'm glad you brought them. They both seem wise beyond their years.
  • apatrix: You were also cool and interesting to talk to. I repeatedly tried and failed to nail down where exactly you're from. I have it nailed down to somewhere in the alpha quadrant. Sorry again about that silly nodeshell.
  • passport: What can I say about him that hasn't already been said? He's really an evil alien hell-bent on liquefying and sucking out all of our brains through a straw. That was a total lie, but you can definitely say that that had not yet been said about him. Nice to finally meet the fellow St. Louisan.
  • hunt05: I was surprised at how young she was. Too bad we were all corrupting one of America's youths. Shame on us. This bullet point has been brought to you by the letter "M."
  • JohnnyGoodYear: Lemme tell you about this guy, he... no, wait, nevermind, he wasn't there.
  • There was this tall guy, I don't remember his username or real name. I remember him saying he was just lurking on E2 for now and that he was a figment of our imaginations. Maybe he was.
  • artman2003: He was kinda funny, but he wore this silly mask thingy when going to sleep and he had to leave early. What a dork!
  • Roguepoet: The CDs he brought were fabulous, the covers of which were all designed by him. I salute you, you rogue poet you. Oh, wow, you should have babies with ScientistPhilosopher. Then you could have rogue scientists that are also poetic philosophers. Or something.
  • eien_meru: Last but not least we come to this cuddly little guy. This gentle little hobbit could have come straight from a Build-a-Bear workshop except for that bird's nest of a beard. Fortunately that was getting clipped off just as I was departing.

Again, it sucks that I had to leave before Rocky Horror. I hadn't done a RH screening since the spring of 1995 when I was a freshman in college. And that was only my second one. I saw in photos how special and cuddly that time was for all the noders. I'm not sure if I would have taken off my shirt, though. I am married and it could have been dangerous, driving all the noderwomen wild with my sexy, hairy torso. Perhaps it is a good thing that I left early.